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Seniors and Outdoor Workers – How to Survive in Extreme Heat

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We are enjoying a respite from July weather for the moment, but extreme heat will return soon and seniors and outdoor workers will again be at risk. Now, the Government has issued new warnings.

According to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heat-related deaths and injuries can be prevented. “Water, rest, shade,” are what it takes, he said. “If outdoor workers take these precautions, it can mean the difference between life and death.”

OSHA says employers have a duty to protect workers and develop a hot-weather plan when temperatures top 90 degrees as they will later this week. The director of the National Weather Service, Dr. Louis Uccellini, said more extreme heat is expected this summer, and workers and employers should prepare. “Heat is a silent killer,” he said. “Unlike such hazards as damaging winds or flooding, many people often don’t realize they are in trouble until they need medical assistance.”

OSHA reports most outdoor workers who die because of heat stress are in their first week of a new job and have not had time to adjust to the conditions.

A link to a fatality map is at OSHA.gov.  And, the CDC advises persons 65 plus:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

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